In a groundbreaking announcement Friday afternoon, the University of Delaware revealed that it would offer women's ice hockey as a varsity sport beginning July 1, 2025, making it the first varsity women's hockey program in the state of Delaware and the sport's 45th program at the college level.
The Blue Hens will compete as part of College Hockey America starting in the 2025–26 season. A national search for a head coach will commence in January to allow for a full year of recruitment and preparation for Delaware's inaugural season.
The addition comes in the wake of the university's football program moving to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). To remain compliant with Title IX, Delaware will offer Division I women's hockey alongside its club hockey program, which has enjoyed more than a decade of success in the national rankings. The NHL and NHLPA also played a role in the decision, with the Industry Growth Fund providing the means for a feasibility study to ensure a hockey team would be the best course of action when expanding women's sports for the university.
This will increase College Hockey America to seven teams, with Lindenwood, Mercyhurst, Penn State, Robert Morris, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Syracuse already competing members. Each of the existing programs took to Twitter to welcome their newest competition into the fold, which already has its own account (@Delaware_IH).
A press conference will take place Monday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m. ET at Delaware's Fred Rust Arena, and will be streamed via YouTube. The press release sent out by the school indicates that a partnership with the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers is also underway, with a kickstarter event to be held in February 2024.